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First Edition: August 7, 2013

Today’s headlines include reports about how deadlines have been missed regarding tests for the health cxchange privacy system.

Kaiser Health News: My Place CT – Connecticut’s Plan For Long-Term Care
Kaiser Health News staff writer Kelsey Miller talked with the Connecticut Department of Social Services’ Dawn Lambert about Connecticut’s efforts to address residents’ long-term care needs while also minimizing the strain on the state’s Medicaid budget (Miller, 8/7). Read the interview.

Kaiser Health News: Transforming Prenatal Care To Lower Infant Mortality
The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Allyn Gaestel, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News, reports: ”A heartfelt discussion about the impact that parents have on their children followed. But this is not a simple support group. It is an innovative way of delivering prenatal care that takes women out of the doctor’s office and into a group setting where education, emotional support, and physical health intertwine. Philadelphia had one of the worst first-day infant mortality rates — 5.43 of every 1,000 live births — among more than 200 of the most populous counties in the country between 2007 and 2009, according to a recent report by the charity Save the Children” (Gaestel, 8/6). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Farzad Mostashari To Leave Federal Health IT Office; A Conservative Re-Envisioning Of The Health Care Overhaul
Now on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Minnesota Public Radio’s Elizabeth Stawicki, working in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports on Farzad Mostashari’s announcement that he will depart the top spot at the federal health IT office: “The charismatic head of health information technology at the Department of Health and Human Services will step down this fall.  In an e-mail to staff, Dr. Farzad Mostashari didn’t divulge why he was departing after serving for two years in that position and four years at the agency” (Stawicki, 8/6).

Also on Capsules, Mary Agnes Carey reports on a new conservative plan for overhauling the health care system: “Tired of hearing policy experts and politicians debate the 2010 health care law?  What if you took the Affordable Care Act out of the conversation?  If you could scrap the nation’s current health care system and build a new one, what would it look like?” (Carey, 8/7). Check out what else is on the blog.

The Washington Post’s Wonk Blog: Uh-Oh: Obamacare Security Testing Is Months Behind, Report Says
Last Friday, the Inspector General’s Office at Health and Human Services released a report titled “Observations noted during the OIG review of CMS’ implementation of the health insurance exchange-data services hub.” The most important observation: The federal government is months behind where it hoped to be in testing security features of a crucial health law component (Kliff, 8/6).

USA Today/The Tennessean: Health Exchange Privacy System Deadlines Missed
The federal health exchange risks missing its Oct. 1 rollout date because it has yet to prove it can protect people’s privacy. The Office of Inspector General issued a report Monday saying the contractor given the job of developing a system security plan had missed deadlines — the same day the Department of Health and Human Services started allowing people to set up personal accounts and passwords on the website for the federal exchange (Wilemon, 8/6).

The Washington Post: White House Unveils Health Care Wizard To Teach Business Owners About Obamacare
The White House has kicked its Obamacare outreach and education efforts into full gear, including a new Website designed specifically for curious and confused business owners. The new site allows employers to input their location, company size and current insurance plans and receive tailored information about changes under the law, important dates to remember, and the formulas for determining requirements and penalties (Harrison, 8/6).

Politico: Top Health IT Official Leaving HHS
A key player in driving the nation’s health IT policy announced Tuesday that he plans to leave the Obama administration this fall. Dr. Farzad Mostashari, national coordinator for health information technology, told colleagues in a wistful, 750-word email that he’s leaving the administration after four years at HHS. He offered no explanation and no plans for his future. An agency spokesman said no decision has been made yet about who might succeed him in the job (Cheney, 8/6).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Post-Romney, Some In GOP Reject Advice To Moderate Positions, Worrying Party Elders
After Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss, many senior Republicans concluded the party must moderate its image on issues such as immigration and reproductive rights. But some GOP lawmakers have done the opposite. They imposed new restrictions on abortion in several states. They are strongly resisting a broad immigration bill in the U.S. House. They’re waging a steady assault on “Obamacare,” with some House and Senate Republicans vowing to shut down the government if that’s what it takes to choke off the health care law Congress enacted in 2010 (8/6).

The Washington Post: Romney Warns Against Government Shutdown, Saying GOP Would ‘Suffer’
Mitt Romney returned to the political stage Tuesday night in New Hampshire and warned fellow Republicans against a government shutdown, which he said would bring dire human and political consequences. The 2012 GOP presidential nominee waded into the policy fight over possibly defunding President Obama’s signature health-care law in the budget battle set to resume in September. Romney rejected a strategy proposed by leading congressional Republicans — including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a leading Romney surrogate last year — who are threatening not to pass a year-end budget bill if it includes funding for the health-care law (Rucker, 8/6).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Romney Warns Against Government Shutdown, Says ‘Better Ways’ To Ditch Health Care Law
Romney, 66, warned congressional Republicans against letting emotions drive their decisions. ”I badly want Obamacare to go away, and stripping it of funds has appeal. But we need to exercise great care about any talk of shutting down government,” Romney said in the first speech of its kind since his November election loss to Obama. “What would come next when soldiers aren’t paid, when seniors fear for their Medicare and Social Security, and when the FBI is off duty?” (8/6).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Drugstore Operator CVS Caremark’s 2nd-Qtr Profit Climbs 16 Percent, Guidance Narrows
CVS Caremark Corp.’s second-quarter earnings jumped 16 percent, as the drug store operator and pharmacy benefits manager continued to reap bottom-line gains from generic drugs. But the Woonsocket, R.I., company’s shares slid Tuesday afternoon after it also dropped the top end of its 2013 earnings forecast a penny below the Wall Street consensus due to a delay in share buybacks, which can boost earnings per share by lowering the share count (8/6).

The Wall Street Journal: Childhood Obesity Declines In Some States
The problem of childhood obesity, long among the country’s most intractable and vexing health issues, is at last showing signs of turning the corner. The obesity rate for low-income preschool-age children declined between 2008 and 2011 in 19 of 43 states and territories measured, federal data showed on Tuesday (McKay, 8/7).

USA Today: CDC: Childhood Obesity Rates Falling In Many States
Obesity rates among preschoolers are falling in many states for the first time in decades, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. Small but significant declines in obesity among low-income preschoolers were found in 18 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands from 2008 to 2011, CDC director Thomas Frieden said at a press telebriefing (Payne, 8/6).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: NYC’s Neighborhood Hospitals Closing As Financial Pressures Mount, Part Of Larger Trend
There was a time when the neighborhood hospital was a cornerstone of New York City life. But for a growing number of city residents, the trip to have an appendix taken out or get treatment for a broken leg is increasingly being measured in miles rather than blocks. Since 2000, 19 hospitals across the city have closed due to financial pressures, and nos. 20 and 21 are underway  (8/6).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: House Panel Probes NY Oversight Of Nursing Group
A congressional committee investigating New York’s $56 billion Medicaid program is questioning why the state Medicaid oversight agency’s audit of a visiting nurses’ group has taken years and whether the Cuomo administration improperly intervened (8/6). 

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